Sunday, November 30, 2008

Shed Pounds?

Walk a pound dog!


To teach is to learn. Let's learn Yiddish together.

Motzi pronounced moe- tzee, to rhyme with "goat sea." Hebrew: "provide", "bring forth."

The blessing over bread recited before each meal.

Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth (hamotzi) bread from the earth.

-Leo Rosten The Joys of Yiddish

Boycott Robot Food

Try this for a day. Boycott consuming of any food made by robots. See if you can pay attention only to foods made or harvested by you and your friends.

World Peace Through Pie

I have some friends who were asked to intervene in a heated dispute. They made pies to share and met around a round table with all of the parties involved. As they ate and discussed the problems the argument was resolved peacefully. Edible diplomacy. World peace through pie.

Neighborhood Bread

Let's make it convenient to be healthy. Can we cook and bake for our neighborhoods? Let's make it inconvenient to be unhealthy. I'll gladly bake bread and cultivate yogurt and make vats of greens and beans and soups. As a neighborhood we could all eat for pennies a day and educate our children and neighbors on how to bake bread and grow food to feed each other and be healthy and happy. We could construct a neighborhood beehive oven. Neighborhoods could be rebuilt on wholegrain breads, homegrown salads, homemade whole wheat crust pizza, homemade peanut butter cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, homemade noodles, and apple pie!

Food For Thought

Early this morning I watched watched Michael Pollan being interviewed on Bill Moyers TV show and I got inspired. Can we grow vegetables on the land behind the baseball field behind the nets on Woonsocket's Elbow Street? I have fantasized about a community garden in our urban neighborhood for years. Community garden or dog park! Here's a very good article by Michael Pollan of the NYT on his website.

Dora Fleurant, the woman who owned my house before me, owned the whole neighborhood! She used to have a big vegetable garden in her summer home in East Providence. She would do lots of canning and then would feed all the folks here in this neighborhood. Perhaps I can carry on this tradition with a garden right here this spring. Hopefully I won't knock down my vegetable plants shooting hoops!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pumpkin Ice Cream

I tend to prefer a turkey sandwich or green vegetables to ice cream any day but I love pumpkin ice cream. You can make your own!

1 3/4 cups pumpkin purée (1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée)
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of salt
2 Tbsp brandy (optional)

Put the pumpkin puree, sugar, spices, and salt in a blender. Purée until smooth. Slowly add the cream, a tablespoon or two at a time, pulsing after each addition. Chill for 15 minutes (or longer, this part you can make ahead).

If you are using brandy, mix it in to the cream mixture right before churning. Churn in your ice cream machine 20 to 25 minutes. Keep in freezer until served.

Makes about 1 quart.

The Bread Ovens Of Quebec

The Bread Ovens Of Quebec by Lise Boily and Jean-Francois Blanchette is a book on how to make your own beehive oven like the ones in old Quebec. It's published by the National Museum of Canada.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Basketball Omnivore

Among my favorite books are The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and Tender At The Bone by Ruth Reichl.
I am a basketball omnivore! Dance, jump, run, skip, sing and eat with joy! Live your life!
Various mammals are omnivorous by nature such as bears; coatis; canines like gray wolves or dingos; hedgehogs; opossums; pigs; some primates including chimpanzees and humans; raccoons; rodents including chipmunks, mice, rats, and squirrels; skunks; sloths; various birds whose prey varies from berries and nectar to insects, worms, fish, small rodents, and snakes; cassowarys; chickens; corvids including crows, magpies, ravens, and rooks; keas; rallidae; rheas; some fish such as piranhas; some lizards; and turtles. Their diet consists of both meat and vegetable matter.
from Wikipedia

Garlic Green Beans

Chop heads and tails off a bunch of good lookin' green beans. Chop them in half the short way if you'd like, then steam them. While they're gently steaming chop up way too much garlic (after taking the cores out) then dump them into some hot olive oil and watch them turn golden. Add the bright green steamed beans to the garlic oil and throw in soy sauce and a pinch of sugar and salt. Throw in a handful of chopped up toasted almonds if you happen to have some or a few dashes of toasted sesame oil. A pinch of dried red chili flakes or cayenne pepper is fun too. These beans are so good you'll want to open your own Chinese restaurant. Enjoy!

A Little Bit of Lard

Sunday we had a house brunch the cowboy breakfast I've been dreaming of for years! I baked two large braided sourdough loaves while our guest was asleep. I baked a few skillets of thick cut bacon, a dozen eggs, to invite him down for breakfast! I roasted five pounds of potatoes in the leftover bacon fat. Today I feel like I can run a hundred miles. A little bit of lard is a good thing!

Don't you find it funny that the foods in many traditional diets - starting with breast milk and moving on to coconut oil, butter, eggs, and pork fat - are loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol, yet people who eat these traditional foods liberally don't get heart disease? Nor are they fat or diabetic.

I believe the conventional wisdom on traditional foods is mistaken. The so-called diseases of civilization - obesity, diabetes, heart disease - are not caused by real food. The diseases of industrialization - as I call them - are caused by the foods of industrialization.
-Nina Plank, Real Food

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Turkey Soup

I am simmering a vat of turkey bones and the aroma is amazing. When it's done I will fish out all of the bones and cool it in the cellar cold room and then skim the fat off the top (saving it in a jar to spice up Honey's dog food) and begin creating my soup. I've had a bit of turkey every day this week and I am still looking forward to the Thanksgiving turkey.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Photos Of Food

When I went to the supermarket the other night to get a big bag of semisweet chocolate chips, a can of pumpkin, Crisco, and ketchup I was seduced by the photos of steaming pancakes printed on the front of the mix boxes. I just stood there looking for a few minutes. I'll admit I am easily swayed by pin up photos of food.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tea Eggs

Tea Eggs (cha ye dan) are a cheap snack food found all over China. The eggs whites are dyed with a beautiful patina and imbued with delicious flavors.

6 eggs
5 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of sugar
2 tablespoon loose black tea or 2 tea bags
3 pieces of star anise
1 small stick cinnamon or cassia bark
1 teaspoon cracked peppercorns (optional)

Place unshelled eggs in saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the eggs. With a knife, tap each egg to slightly crack the shells in two or three places or roll them in a towel! Return them to the saucepan. Add the other ingredients and stir. Cover and simmer for 3 hours, adding water as necessary. Drain, serve hot or cold. You can also use Earl Grey tea bags but if you do, omit the other herbs and spices.

Basement Basmati

I found 15 pounds of basmati rice in a big tin in my cold room, my basement pantry. It was a Christmas gift from a friend last year!


I want to go out with the fisherman on the fishing boat for a day like I did with the milk truck. I have the yellow overall pants! I'm going to ask them today.

Late Night Coffee

We always pack a thermos of hot coffee and hot milk to mix up after our late night gigs. Drink up and look for shooting stars.

Apples In the Night

Why is an apple the perfect snack on a long car ride home at two in the morning? But it is.

Peanut Butter Buckets

We got two seven pound buckets of peanut butter from JAR baking supply in Lincoln RI. It's freshly made in Providence and is fabulous natural peanut butter. Great on whole wheat sourdough bread with sour cherry jam from Job Lot.

Diner Ware

I love dinerware, the thick cups plates bowls and monkey dishes found in restaurants and diners across America. I find them at yard sales and thrift stores. I especially love Syracuse China and Buffalo China and Pyrex. I love their sturdiness. I love the coffee cups that look like tea cups.


My bread is so simple I urge everyone to try it. Measure out about six cups of fresh whole wheat flour, a tablespoon of salt, and three cups of wrist temperature water. If you have a blob of sourdough starter or some old dough lying around add it in, otherwise just add a teaspoon of Fleishmann's Active Dry Yeast (not quick rise). Mix it all up in a big bowl with your hands or a wooden spoon! Then knead the dough on your kitchen counter. Have fun! You can't hurt the dough! Punch roll twist polka! You can add more flour or cornmeal or oats if you want to. Let it rise covered with a clean colorful cloth in a warm place for an hour or two or a day or two depending on the temperatures of your house. Punch down the dough. Dance and sing! I like to shape my dough into a three rope braid because it looks beautiful and supports itself when it expands. Or make two small breads and give one to your neighbor. Preheat oven to 450 and bake on a stone or greased cast iron skillet, or a greased baking sheet for 35-40 minutes. When done the bread will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom!

Tea Scones

Tea scones, made with tea! They are delicious and a gorgeous color.

4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
1 cup milk
10 black tea, tea bags
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup water
4 tablespoons sugar
Warm honey or preserves
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. With pastry blender or fingers, cut or rub in butter until mixture is size of small peas; set aside. In small saucepan, bring milk to a boil. Add 6 tea bags, cover and brew 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and cool. Beat in egg. Gradually add tea mixture to flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Make tea glaze by boiling 1 cup water and brewing 4 tea bags for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and stir in 4 tablespoons sugar. Let cool. Turn dough onto floured cookie sheet and pat into 16" circle. With blunt edge of knife, score top of dough into 16 pie shaped wedges. Brush with tea glaze and bake 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Serve with warm honey or preserves, if desired. Makes 16 scones.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I love turkey and I couldn't wait until Thanksgiving so I bought a huge fresh one on sale yesterday. I baked it last night in my oven in a gigantic cast iron oval roasting pot that we affectionately call the baby roaster. I put two round cast iron trivets on the bottom of the roaster to make a shelf to keep the turkey above the turkey fat. I set the oven at 450. I dug out the bags of turkey parts to make a basting sauce. I rinsed the bird and patted it dry and salted and peppered it generously all over.

Here's the recipe for the basting sauce: cube giblets, saute until cooked then remove from heat. Add olive oil to the liquid, add a handful of fresh backyard sage leaves and a couple of bay leaves and a few cloves. Heat, add wine, and a good dollop of honey or molasses. I like to add a cup of apricot preserves or cranberry chutney; a tart fruit is good. Bring the mixture to a boil, keep stirring, then let it cool.

I basted the turkey after one hour of roasting at 450 degrees. I used the whole mixture, and basted again after another hour using the liquid in the bottom of the turkey pan. I basted more frequently as the roasting time continued. When the turkey was done, I removed it from the roasting pan with sturdy skewers (pitchforks!) and placed it on a large platter. It looked like it was made of asphalt, but it was delicious! The hardest part was resisting carving it right away! I let it sit a bit to cool (twenty minutes) to keep the moisture inside the skin. I had to be careful not to turn my back and let Honey gobble it up!

Scallion Rice Peanut Noodle Delight

Today I made whole wheat angel hair noodles. I sauteed in olive and toasted sesame oil, four bunches of scallions chopped, freshly chopped garlic, chopped carrots, sliced onions, chopped celery, and then added them to the noodles with some leftover jasmine rice. Then I made a peanut sauce in the blender. I scooped some natural peanut butter, freshly squeezed lime juice, a pinch of sugar, splashes of soy sauce, water, and red chili flakes and I buzzed them all together and poured it over the vegetable noodle rice mixture. I mixed it all up in a big bowl using my bare hands! Delicious at room temperature! I love to eat with chop sticks.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Simmering Soups

May the winter soup pot never be dry! My braided sourdough bread is rising next to the boiler. My baked chicken carcass made an excellent stock especially since I accidentally baked it for 7 hours! I lost track of time. It made a fabulous stock which when cooled I skimmed the schmaltz and then made a Chinese soup with the gelatinous stock adding more water and a few tablespoons of natural smooth peanut butter as a thickener and Chinese vegetables bok choy and Chinese broccoli as the main ingredients. I also threw in whole mushrooms and Brussels sprouts too, and bean thread noodles I found in the back of my cupboard. I also added dashes of mushroom soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, Asian hot sauce, bloops of olive oil and sprinkles of salt. Soup is my friend.

Superstitions About Food

I am fascinated by superstitions about food in all of the cultures of the world. Here are some Thai superstitions about food and eating translated from "Boran Oo-bai" by Sanom Krutmeuang.

Every country has their own old wives tales, a list of things you shouldn't do. Thailand is no exception. Some of these seem crazy on the surface but most have hidden good reasons. You will still hear some of these being said today in some Thai families.

* Don't eat a double banana because if you are a woman you will give birth to twins.
* Don't eat before your elders because in your next life you will be born as a dog.
* Don't eat food without rice because you will get rickets.
* Don't eat salt under a tree because it will make the tree die.
* Don't eat other people's food without permission because it will make your throat swollen.
* Don't eat the leftovers from your child because it will make the kid naughty.
* Don't eat before a monk because you will become a bad ghost.
* Don't eat corn when you have the flu because it will give you a higher fever.
* Don't eat all of the rice during your evening meal because you should leave some for the elves.
* Don't eat cold rice with hot rice because you will lose your way easily the next time you go out.
* Don't eat egg when you have cut yourself because it will make it worse.
* Don't eat chicken feet because it will give you bad handwriting.
* Don't eat chili sauce in the mortar bowl because if you are a woman you will give birth to a child with big lips.
* Don't eat turtles because it will make you walk slowly.
* Don't eat dog because the dog's spirit will possess you.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Spider Pot Chicken

All is well over here. I am feeling extremely lucky. I feel as though we are going to move towards greatness again. Obama rocks! To celebrate we walked to the Asian American Market on North main Street and I bought a chicken and Asian vegetables. I love this market! Tonight I saw the owners were drying thin slices of beef on racks using a fan.

I am baking my six pound chicken standing on its end on a trivet in an antique cast iron spider pot fitted with a cast iron cover. The bird cavity is jammed with a whole bulb of garlic, a two inch knuckle of ginger root and a whole lime. Surrounding the bird in the remaining space are whole carrots, whole potatoes, and a whole onion. I had to take all the shelves out of the oven to fit this pot inside! I have been basting the bird and vegetables using my turkey baster!

Baking Bread and Hunting for Hoops

My braided sourdough that rose overnight next to the boiler is baking now and the aroma is fabulous. I saw an ad for an adult tricycle and I am thinking I could have Honey ride with me on my errands! She has separation anxiety and so do I! I am looking for basketball hoop for the neighborhood parking lot.